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This chapter prosecutes the history of Israel, after the death of Gideon. Abimelech, the natural son of Gideon, usurps the government; slays all his brethren, except the youngest, who hid himself from him. His reign, did not, however, terminate according to his wishes, for his evil conduct produced at length his own ruin. These are the contents of this chapter.
Observe how by iniquity, the plan is laid for obtaining the government. Here is no lawful right, no just claim, no call of God; and at the same time it is in direct opposition to his father ' s own promise. See Judges 8:23 .
Take notice, how the scheme was carried on. It began in man ' s ambition, unauthorized by God, and was kept up by bribes from an idol. Thus laid in sin; what can the end be but vanity and vexation of spirit? The wages of sin is death.
See how the dreadful pursuit is marked. It is all written in blood. And to such a wretched state is Israel at this time, as a nation, reduced that instead of punishing, according to God's righteous law, the murderer, he is advanced with one voice to the throne. Oh, gracious God! how infinitely to be prized, in this view of the picture of the human heart, is thy preventing and restraining grace.
The Lord, by his providence, had saved Jotham, from the general massacre of his brethren, and no doubt, the same gracious God, which had saved him from destruction, led him to make the declaration to the Shechemites, for there was much of a prophetic spirit in what he spake.
It was a very favorite way in the Eastern world, to deliver weighty subjects by parable. And hence, in accommodation to this general mode of instruction, our adorable Redeemer chiefly delivered his precious discourses, under the cover of similitudes; so much so indeed, that at one time without a parable Jesus did not speak unto them. See Matthew 13:34 . The figure of the tree chasing a king, and the nobler ones declining the station, while the bramble hastily caught at it, was plainly intended to show how Gideon had, modestly for himself and his lawful sons, declined this honour! while his illegitimate son, like a worthless bramble, seized it on the first offer. Nothing, in a figurative way, could have been more happily chosen, to point out the object Jotham had in view.
Nothing can be more evident, from the sequel of Abimelech's history, and which this chapter relates, than that there was a great deal of a prophetic spirit in this declaration of Jotham. The mutual destruction of Abimelech and the Shechemites, set forth this very strikingly.
It was prudent to hasten away, when he had delivered his message in such faithfulness. How few are there that can be found faithful to God and souls!
Observe, it is not said that Abimelech governed Israel for their good, or that he was a blessing to the people, but that he reigned so long, perhaps in his own enjoyments.
Observe, when the triumphs of the wicked begin to draw to an end, how we are taught to mark the Lord's hand in it. An evil spirit sowed dissention among them: but it was the Lord which sent this evil spirit. The Lord never wants instruments to accomplish the purposes of his own righteous will. It is always profitable to eye the hand of God, in every providence both of mercy and judgment. None but God's people, however, can sing of both, and none but them can sing that song to the Lord. Psalms 101:1 .
One general observation runs through the whole of this history, and meets the Reader in every part of it: namely, that God's judgments, sooner or later, overtake the sinner. The Shechemites are first punished by the apparent victory of Abimelech, but this victory only becomes the prelude to the death of Abimelech: so that both fall by the just judgment of Almighty God. So true and final is that solemn sentence of God: Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man. Genesis 9:6 .
WHILE I beg the Reader to reflect with me on the sad account of human sin and transgression which this chapter affords, I desire him no less to remark, how various the ways the Lord is pleased to adopt, to punish the sins of his people. Sometimes by the scourge of the enemy, and sometimes by the baseness of false friends. Oh! my God, give me to behold, and with humble thankfulness to contemplate, thy mercy in thus adopting any, and every means, thy grace and wisdom see most suited to the end, to call home our rebellious hearts, when at any time, from a fullness of blessings, we depart from thee. Yes, blessed God! do thou mercifully appoint chastisements, of whatever kind, or nature, or degree, the case requires, so that my wandering soul is again allured and brought back to thy fold; and Jesus becomes increasingly precious, from a stronger conviction in my past rebellion, of my need of him. Raise up, gracious Lord, an holy conflict, in the struggles of my poor fallen nature, until, like the men of Shechem, and Abimelech, they mutually destroy one another, so that every thought is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Root out all the brambles and thorns which would propose shelter to my sins; and do thou, blessed Jesus, as the cedar of Lebanon, or the olive tree of Engedi, and the vine of Zion, cover me with thy rich branches, and give me to sit under thy shadow with great delight, that thy fruit may be sweet to my taste.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Judges 9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany